IN THOSE DAYS, Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him about Whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus Son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Nathanael said to Philip, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, He said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael asked Jesus, “How do You know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” And Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”
"He (meaning Jesus) found Philip..." notice who is finding who here. Saint John the Evangelist is describing in this section, and in the section before it (verses 35-42) the calling of the first disciples. It wasn't they who found Him, it was the Lord Who found specific people, whom He wanted to be His disciples. In this case, it is the disciples who would form the inner circle of the disciple - the Twelve.
Notice also that Jesus "decided to go to Galilee," meaning, He was actively searching out these specific people to become His disciples.
I think this is important because this shows what kind of relationship Christ desires to have with us. A few chapters later in John's Gospel, Jesus says, "You did not choose Me, but I chose you" (John 15:16). Yes, we do react to, cooperate with, this call, but it is not us who initiates it.
And just like Jesus found the specific disciples to follow Him, He finds each and every one of us to follow Him as well. Every human being is precious for God because He created all of us, He gave us life. By this alone He "finds" us so that we would follow Him.
Even though we are found by Jesus, that does not make us His followers by default. Our cooperation with Him choosing us does.
As the Gospel lesson for the first Sunday of Great Lent, this is a good reminder to us to make sure that we, first, realize, and second, respond to being found. Great Lent is that period of time when we can look at how we respond. If we believe that we are already found by Jesus, what exactly in our actions signifies that? If we are not sure yet, what can we do to figure that out?
If we are already found, doing good works is a second nature to us, we don't even think about them. Compare your actions with those on the right hand (Matthew 25:31-46). As I mentioned in a sermon couple Sundays ago, we should not dwell on the good things we do, we should just do them. But taking inventory from time to time of what we have and have not done can also be helpful.
But if we are unsure yet whether we have been found by Jesus, we need to ask ourself, "Do I want to be found?" If the answer is no, then there is not much else to do. However, if the answer is yes, then find out what it takes to be Christ's disciple. Read the four Gospels during Lent, and the Epistles. Go to church. If there are other disciples of Christ, they are more likely than not to be in church. And pray.
Jesus is actively searching us out (that's why every human being was born), but we need to react to Him, in order to be His disciple.
For last year's reflection, click here.
Yours in the Lord,
Father Aleksey - your friendly Singac priest